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At Large: The Strange Case of the World's Biggest Internet Invasion Paperback – June 3, 1998
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the remarkable aspects of the story is that the chief antagonist (the "hacker") was not particularly skilled. He was what's called a "script kiddie" in the biz. Another remarkable aspect of the book is that after breaking into dozens of computers, and finally getting caught after dozens of people had invested hundreds of hours tracking him, he was basically let off the hook with very little punishment.
I found this to be a fascinating account of an extraordinary series of events. I recommend this book especially for those who are interested in the field of information security as it provides a glimpse of the motivations and methodology of one notorious cracker. For people who are interested in crimes or security, this will be a riveting story.
All that said, this is only one side of the story and I wondered how accurate the reporting was. In particular, I wished that there was more on the motivation and thinking of the main antagonist, the super-cracker-slash-script-kiddie pseudo-named Matt Singer. In the book, he is characterized basically as a bad guy. There has been more written about this story and apparently the script kiddie's real name is Tim Bach. You can find his posts in the freebsd.org mailing list archives from 1995 and other on-line traces. These "real-world" glimpses do not seem, IMHO, to jive completely with the character in this putatively non-fiction book.Read more ›
The hacker who became known as "Phantom Dialer," started his two year hacking escapade by reeking havoc on the network at the Portland State University in Oregon in 1991. Once into the Portland State network, his used that site as a stepping stone to networks across the globe.
At around the same time that Phantom Dialer was causing damage, the FBI was starting its computer crime squad. While almost as persistent in catching Phantom Dialer as the Phantom Dialer was anonymous, the dedicated members of the computer crime squad felt that while their efforts were valiant, it was nonetheless just a drop in the water, compared to the thousands of other hackers out there.
After a wire tap where the squad was able to determine who Phantom Dialer was, and where his base location was, the squad decided to raid Phantom Dialer's house, arrest him, and seize his computer equipment.
Once inside the house with a warrant, a rather humorous incident occurred. The squad members went to Phantom Dialer's room and announced "Open up -- FBI!", Phantom Dialer replied "Shut up Steve (his brother), Do you think that I'm going to fall for that trick again?".
Phantom Dialer was arrested and jailed.Read more ›
Accomplishments: Determination really can trump weak technical skills. How else can I describe a young man with apparent physical and mental problems who was able to pluck logins directly from Internet backbones?
Writing style: The writing is fairly ordinary and bland -- that is, the content is the story, not flowery writing. But there is something else here that I found very pleasant. The curiosity and frustration experienced by the technical people hunting the hacker made it into the writing in an exceptional way.
I have not done the book justice here. I would recommend visiting the library and reading the first 20 pages. After that, you'll want to own a copy.
I've read many (okay, most) of the well known books on hackers and hacker culture, and I would put @large in the top three, alongside The Watchman, by Jonathan Littman, and Kingpin, by Kevin Poulsen.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this book a long time ago and still count it as one of the best out there, when it comes to covering a computer crime. Read morePublished on October 14, 2012 by Amazon Customer
This is a book about Asperger's Disorder and the only hacker with that profile is Adrian Lamo.
When Lamo was finally discharged to his parents' house on May 7, he left... Read more
@LARG, I love it, because i have twist, i am buying from Kindle-Amazon. I have Read it. But is Especialy, Maybe you dont know ? Read morePublished on October 16, 2011 by Cici Wirachmat
"At Large" is a "hacking" book published during the mid-1990s, but it doesn't address the characters usually considered to be the "stars" of that era. Read morePublished on July 17, 2010 by Richard Bejtlich
I really enjoyed reading this book. If you're into computers and networks or simply like a chase, you'll definitely want to read this one. Read morePublished on November 8, 2008 by Ignacio
I am always up for true computer crime stories so I purchased it even though other customers dumped all over it. Read morePublished on October 20, 2002 by Jeff
This book is the worst piece of crap I have ever read. Same old sob story about the feds, etc. not taking computer crime seriously and being slow to get moving... Read morePublished on February 25, 2002 by Eric C. Schneider
After reading Cliff Stolls book, The Cuckoo's egg, i was up for another great book about hacking. This wasnt it. Read morePublished on November 20, 2001